De Proef Brouwerij & Terrapin Beer Co. - Monstre Rouge

De Proef Brouwerij & Terrapin Beer Co. - Monstre Rouge

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Imperial Flanders Red Ale

Country:

United States

Alcohol by Volume:

8.50%

De Proef Brouwerij & Terrapin Beer Co. - Monstre Rouge

  • Alcohol by Volume: 8.50%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip or Flute Glass
Murky brownish amber with faint hints of crimson and burgundy in the light, this beer pours with a voluminous head that sticks aggressively to the glass. A thin rainbow-colored layer can be seen atop the larger bubbles in the head as the high concentration of hop oils diffracts the light. On the nose, look for a complex layering of oranges, passion fruit, “produce aisle,” grape juice, tartness, powdered aspirin, hints of mint sprig and a fairly prominent undercurrent of barn funk and cellar mustiness. The interplay of the fruits and aromatic hops works wonders against the funkiness, livening things up and begging you to take that first sip. But, let it breathe and warm for a few moments before you do, then sniff again and notice the rock-candy like sweetness that emerges, along with resinous pine sap, candied apple and gentle nips of rye spice. Check back on the aroma, as it will continue to blossom, but for now, let’s get to sipping on this stuff! The first sip yields a burst of produce-like funk as the Brett has clearly worked its magic on the stuff, with a rush of sweet, sticky, grapefruit hoppiness and malts. This funky sweetness is quickly countered by a lengthy arc of very earthy, nearly chalky, hoppy bitterness that coats the palate in more sultry, sappy, resinous hop bitterness. Aroma check: the alcohol has landed… with a little warmth in it the alcohol notes emerge in a most lovely fashion, gracefully sharpening the hops and taming the funk, which itself has increased with temperature. And the alcohol grows a bit on the palate as well, effecting a similar result. It’s a beautiful, funky booziness that somehow manages to cloud and clean the palate at the same time. At full warmth, a bit of caramel has made its way to the party, and very subtle notes of vanilla and barreled woodiness begin to penetrate the palate. Expect a sticky, rather bitter fade that goes on for minutes, not seconds, in the extremely lengthy finish, as after breaths of funk manage to percolate through the heavy blanket of glorious alpha acids.

We guarantee that you have never had a Flanders Red like this, nor an Imperialized Red Ale quite like it—but the best of both worlds have come together taking the tart funkiness of the former and enveloping it with the hoppy aromatics and robust bitterness of the latter. Monstered up with those wild beasts, Brettanomyces, tart and bitter can be disastrous together. Throw in an indulgent level of hops aromatizing things with pine and mint and grapefruit and you’re just asking for the type of chaos that Dr. Frankenstein unleashed. Yet, somehow, The Prof and the Spike have managed to create a truly beautiful beast of a beer here. A food pairing suggestion is a bit of a challenge on this one, as we like it purely straight up as an after dinner sipper, however, it will hold up to Thai or Indian dishes that have been heavily spiced with peppers, and preferably, ginger, as that rooty spiciness will both complement and contrast the flavors of this beer.
Membership has its privileges… As a Rare Beer Club member, you’ll be the first in the nation to taste the fourth installment of collaboration beers brewed by Dirk Naudts of De Proef Brouwerij and a US craft-brewer collaborator. This year’s beer, like previous offerings, was brewed in Western Flanders, Belgium, at De Proef. And in this corner, representing the US for round four is Brian “Spike” Buckowski, founder of the Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia. Their creation, called Monstre Rouge, could be described as an Imperial Flanders Red Ale, and it doesn’t hit US store shelves until August—giving you at least a month to gloat and torment your fellow beer geeks (or, share with them… what ever works for you). De Proef owner and brewing innovator Dirk Naudts is nicknamed “the prof” (as in professor), a sobriquet that he wears with pride. The word hints at learning and teaching, so it’s a logical step to embrace that educational element through the spirit of collaboration. The international craft brewing culture is rather unique in that there are so many brewers vying for a very small piece of the overall pie. In the US alone, there are more than 1,400 craft breweries all splitting their share from about 5% of the total beer market. With so many breweries vying for their very narrow slice of the beer business, you’d think competition would be fierce, and collaboration uncommon. But remarkably, it’s just the opposite. Craft brewers participate in a unique spirit of cooperation domestically, and it turns out the brewing olive branch extends internationally as well. During the past four years, De Proef has played host to a series of US guest brewers from internationally renowned microbreweries—folks like Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing and Lost Abbey in Southern California, Jason Perkins from Allagash Brewing Company in Maine, and John Mallett of Bell’s Brewery in Michigan. Naudts was among the first international brewers to engage in this type of transatlantic team up, and the maneuver has caught on—international collaboration beers are today far more prevalent than they were about five years ago when he came up with his own Belgian-American collaboration concept. Brian Buckowski of the Terrapin Beer Company also proudly proclaims a nickname on his business card and beer labels: “Spike.” We’re not sure where the spike comes from, but being familiar with Terrapin’s beers, we often think it refers to a heavy-handed spiking of his beers with hops—since the Terrapin beers can carry quite the alpha-acid punch. Among the Atlantic states especially, the American South is experiencing a craft-brewing surge, with some very exciting beers being dreamt up (and served up) down there. Buckowski has played a large part in that uptick in quality beer from the South, having realized early on that he wanted to apply his homebrewing skills professionally to create new beers not formerly available in Georgia, or in much of the South for that matter. Along with co-founder and fellow homebrewer John Cochran, Buckowski introduced their first beer in 2002, and took the unusual step of kicking things off with a spicy, aggressively-hopped Rye Pale Ale. A bold move for a new brewery, but smart; six months after the first pints were drawn at local watering holes in Athens, GA, it won the Gold Medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival in the Pale Ale category. In the years since, they’ve rolled out the barrels, oak-aging many of their beers, dosing some with honey, cocoa, and whatever else suits their fancy. They’ve made some pretty big, monster-sized beers, including one called “Big Hoppy Monster,” upon which the De Proef collaboration brew is loosely based (with some of that southern rye thrown in for good measure, of course!). They brewed only about 110 barrels of Monstre Rouge. Trust us when we tell you, this beer will sell out at the retail level—so you may want to think about upping the number of bottles that you pick up, because not only is this a unique, very tasty brew, it’s going to age wonderfully, so stock up now so you can stash away a few monsters in the closet!
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